As a parent, you want your child to go to the best high school you can find. That might be a public school or a private one, or it could be an entirely different type of educational structure altogether. The high school years are important ones as they help prepare your teen for college and life beyond. You might find that your local high school is a great choice, but you might not.
As a parent, it’s your job to learn how to choose a high school, including answering questions like, “is secondary school the same as high school” (secondary school encompasses grades 6 – 12, while high school is usually only grades 9 – 12) or “how much to pay someone to pick up my child from school” (the school bus is likely a small fee or the city bus can also be used for an affordable price).
As you can see, choosing a high school requires some thought so use this handy guide to help you make your decision.
Teachers are an Important Factor When You Look at How to Choose a High School
First, let’s settle the question of “what is secondary school?” It’s grades 6 – 12, so your child can attend high school at a secondary school, even if it’s not where he or she attended middle school (grades 6-8). Whatever high school you choose, whether private or public, the teachers are the most integral aspect to consider.
You want your child in classrooms with engaged teachers who have a passion for helping your student learn and grow. A diverse faculty is also a good sign that you’ve chosen a good high school for your child.
Examine the Academic Programs that are Offered
Before graduation, your child will be tested to ensure that they’ve learned everything they need to move on to college. It’s therefore, a good idea to be sure the school offers advanced placement classes or honors classes that do a good job of teaching the material that appears on these tests.
You also want a school that offers a diverse list of clubs and sports to engage your child’s mind in different ways and help them decide what they want to do later in life. Remember, that a private school that charges tuition isn’t necessarily a better choice than a free public school. Keep your mind open as you look into each of the options on your list.
Find Out Whether Your Child Needs a Test to Get In
In some places, children must pass a test to get into high school. For example, in Australia, children take the Selective High School Practice Tests, which help the administration decide which classes that child is best suited for. In America, tests like the MAP test or the Cognitive Abilities test are helpful in deciding if advanced classes are appropriate for the student. These tests are a helpful way to be sure your child is getting the most of the high school years.
Visit Several Different Schools Before Choosing
Your child is probably asking you, “what high school will I go to,” and that’s a fair question. If you aren’t sure a local high school is a good option, it pays to let your child know that you haven’t decided yet, then make some appointments to visit some of the schools you’re considering.
Meet the teachers, tour the campus, learn about the teaching style and check out the opportunities available to your child. Weigh how he or she will get to and from school, how much you might be responsible for paying in terms of uniforms and supplies and of course, which one feels like the best fit for your high schooler. Take notes so you can remember which aspects you liked and disliked from each school so you can use that information to make an educated decision.
You Definitely Want to Pay Attention to School Size
Bigger isn’t always better and that’s especially true when you’re choosing a school for your child. In some cases, your high schooler may thrive in a big environment with lots of available opportunities. On the other hand, your child might do better in a smaller school where the teachers can offer more one on one time.
Consider your child’s personality as you determine whether a big school is better than a smaller school. Introverted students may do better on a smaller scale, while extroverts will likely do really well in a large high school.
Decide if the School is Designed for the High School Brain and Body
Many parents make the mistake of assuming that high school is just a stepping stone to college. While it’s certainly one part of the process, that’s not all you should expect from the high school years. The adolescent years are a time of incredible growth.
You want their high school to recognize the importance of sleep, stress relief, peer mentoring relationships, positive risk-taking, and healthy adult guidance. Without these important factors, your high schooler might not achieve as much as he or she is capable of during these years. Be sure the curriculum, schedule and expectations align with a high school student’s development for the best hope at the results you want to see.
Have a Look at College Attendance and Graduation Rates
What percentage of the student body graduates and goes on to college? These are important things to consider when figuring out how to choose a high school. High rates in both areas are indicative of a staff that cares about student success, as well as a curriculum and set of opportunities that motivate students to succeed.
These numbers shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when choosing a high school, but it definitely pays to know what you can expect so you can decide if the school’s vision and mission align with your child wants to get out of life after high school.
Research Pays Off
When it comes to how to choose a high school, research is essential. Looking at all aspects of the school, its faculty, facilities, and extracurricular activities will help you make the best decisions for your child(ren).
Check out Serendipity Mommy for more great advice on raising your kids, including going to a new high school. We’ve got something for every mom, from those with newborns all the way up to those getting ready to launch their little ones.